Can you make your own luck?

My Colombian experience

Can you make your own luck? While we cannot force destiny, we are all capable of putting ourselves in a positive state of mind that attracts opportunities, provided we know how to recognise them and grasp them. Even when we feel stuck in an inextricable situation, a change of attitude can then make it possible to change everything, sometimes miraculously. Indeed, I personally tested this a few years back, and I think about this episode every time I need to bring luck back into my life…

Waking up is more pleasant some times than others. On that day, when I woke up with a start in a hotel in Medellín in Colombia, I must admit that the race against time that I was facing was not the most joyous of prospects. My telephone displayed 11:27, while my flight for Bogota was at 12:35. I was then supposed to make the connections for Mexico and San Francisco so as to continue my holiday in California the next day… Going for broke, I hastily bundled my things together, jumped into a taxi and arrived running flat out into the check-in hall of the airport… With a big smile, the hostess took away my last hope by telling me that boarding was over and that there was no point in me insisting. The plane was still on the tarmac, but I was becoming aware that not only had I missed my flight, but also the two following ones, booked with different low-cost airlines… After trying again to get onto another plane, unfortunately overbooked, there was nothing more for me to do than accept the consequences of oversleeping: I had just lost a large sum of money and my dream Californian holiday had flown away with this plane on which I was not…
Alone in the middle of the crowd of departing passengers, I then felt tiredness descend on me, and the memories of the previous evening come back to me. Medellín is a vibrant city and I let the night go by, convinced I would always be able to sleep on the plane to recover… Instead of which, I had the impression that the world had just fallen in on me, I was useless, worn out, and didn’t really know where to go.

Then a miracle happened that was going to change things for good and turn my trip into a wonderful surprise.

Now having plenty of time, I bought myself a fresh fruit juice that I was going to drink outside, in the sunshine, to pull myself together. Between two slurps, a phrase came to me, in Spanish, like a subliminal message from my hazy subconscious: “Tienes suerte”, you’re lucky.
How’s that, you’re lucky? You’re joking? You’ve just lost your flights, and the cost of all your tickets! You call that being lucky? Being lucky would have been encountering less traffic congestion, and arriving 5 minutes earlier, or else the flight being delayed by 10 minutes! And then I understood that I was lucky. I only had myself to blame for oversleeping, the amount of money I’d lost was not life-threatening, and I was now free to go where I wanted. Looking around me, I also saw how lucky I was to be able to afford such a holiday, and that it was a luxury unaffordable to many people. What was going to happen to me next? I couldn’t wait to find out, and I went back into the airport to book another ticket.
From then on, everything went my way. Absolutely everything. The ticket for Bogota only cost me a supplement of 50 dollars, and I was bumped up to Business class for free. I had run out of battery and I didn’t have a charger to recharge my mobile, but that enabled me to make contact with a Columbian who not only lent me his charger but also kept me company throughout the flight. After some long discussions, I said goodbye, and immediately afterwards met one his female compatriots, who, after asking me for light, went with me to the various counters of the airport to help me sort things out. She also eventually went on her way, but these two great encounters had lit up my day. Everything followed on naturally, as if I was gifted with a special charm or rather with a new energy that had contributed to making positive things happen to me.
On leaving the airport, the idea came to me that I should call an acquaintance in Medellín to ask how he was doing. When I told him about my mishap, he told me that he was in Bogota himself with a girlfriend and proposed I should join them. This was a great scenario. I just had to jump into a yellow cab and drop off my bag in the hotel room he had booked me, before joining them at a club for an absolutely wonderful evening… After a fantastic week-end, I finally took off for San Francisco, my head full of memories, and a smile on my lips. In the end, I had been lucky, very lucky, and not only was the next stage of my holiday fabulous, it had also cost me less than planned…
But would I have had all that luck if I had not decided to have it? If I had stayed in a bad mood, unreceptive, and negative, I would not have had such fine encounters, I would not have been upgraded to business, and I would not have seen events follow on from one another so easily and flowingly. So, the next time you have the impression your world is falling in around you, and you are in a dead-end, try going to drink a fruit juice outside and try saying “Tienes suerte” to yourself in the language of your choice. I hope it works as magically for you as it did for me!

Virgil Benyayer